An archive of one's own

Subcultural creativity and the politics of conservation

  • Alexis Lothian University of Southern California
Keywords: Archives, Fan community, OTW


In response to a rapidly changing scene of intellectual property in digital media, activist fans have mobilized to develop a communal, nonprofit group to provide fans with an "archive of their own", protecting fan works from deletion by server hosts who believe those works to be in breach of copyright. In 2008, the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) incorporated as a nonprofit, and the Archive of Our Own went live in 2009. I am a paid-up member of the OTW—and publishing in the journal it sponsors, after being part of the editorial team for the first five issues—because I believe in the artistic and cultural importance of fan works and I want them to be preserved. But I also believe we must look critically at the meaning-making projects that are encompassed within the OTW's goal of legitimatizing and preserving fan works for the future.